Mojave Experiment

As you know, I’ve been a Vista fan for a while.  I run it at home, and really like it.  It’s much better than XP, despite the awkwardness of UAC.

Despite my praise, I’ve been surprised to hear my colleagues and also the press in general describe Vista as a catastrophic failure.  At first I thought it was Microsoft bashing, but the bashing was so consistent and so prolonged that I believed it.  Although I liked Vista – most people apparently did not.

Microsoft was naturally frustrated by this.  I know they do a lot of usability studies there, and it had done well in studies.  Why did it “fail” in the market and press?

Hence, Microsoft Mojave was born.  This was a user experiment where Microsoft recruited volunteers who had never tried Vista to check out Microsoft’s new OS, “Mojave”.   Only after demoing Mojave and getting rave results from those same users did Microsoft reveal that Mojave was actually just Vista.

Anyway, if Microsoft is to believed on this (and don’t forget Microsoft has been caught lying under oath in the past with forged videos), it confirms my thoughts on Vista.  Vista is actually pretty well liked; just hated by the press.

Icahn to Yahoo Shareholders – “Please bail me out!”

Icahn has been talking with Microsoft.  Both sides have agreed to issue statements (here and here) that if the Yahoo board is fired, Microsoft might offer another bid to purchase Yahoo.

This is easily translated, of course.  It is estimated that Icahn paid ~$25 for his shares and he doesn’t want to lose the money he’s already lost.  Icahn tried to get a Microsoft transaction going in May.  Icahn disastrously failed.  Now he’s looking for Yahoo shareholders to bail him out.

Yahoo is in a tough spot already.  Electing the Icahn board means that you’ve got Yahoo in the same tough spot it’s already in, plus a board that has publicly said it has no intention to do anything with the company other than sell to Microsoft.  This is a horrible negotiating position.

Microsoft could walk in and buy what is left for far less than $20/share.  Fortunately for Yahoo shareholders, I don’t think Microsoft would do this.  Out of “good will” and the interest of avoiding competing bids, they’d offer more.  But if you were an employee at Yahoo, and this all happens, what are you going to do?  You’re either going to quit (because the management team has publicly stated doesn’t care if you succeed or fail – they just want to use you to sell to Microsoft), or you’re going to stick around to see if you don’t get that bonus along with your pink slip.

Either way this is a bad deal for Microsoft (they pick up a bunch of assets with a completely uninspired and burned out team) and its a relatively bad deal for Yahoo shareholders.  They sell out for far less than they were worth just 6 months ago, and if Microsoft really wanted to be brutal, they could end up selling for a small fraction of what they are worth right now.

The only winner:  Carl Icahn – the businessman that builds nothing, takes everything, and doesn’t care about people -who makes a few extra short-term dollars per share for himself.

It’s Not That You Can’t Trust Google- You Can’t Trust the Law

In the Viacom vs Google lawsuit, a judge has ordered that Google turn over a set of information which borders on personally identifiable information.  Although Viacom and the lawyers are supposed to keep all this data private, there is obviously new opportunity for this information to be leaked, abused, or used for other purposes.  It is unclear yet  whether Viacom will get IP addresses in the log data.  If they do, some users will be personally identifiable.  Although Viacom isn’t supposed to use this data to identify end users, they will now know whether or not other lawsuits could bear fruit (a.k.a. make money) for them.  If you think they won’t be coming after individuals, you’re wrong.  It’s just a matter of the right lawyer with enough data to know what to subpoena.  And even if the US Courts don’t allow Viacom access to this data, what happens when French Courts (or any other country) order that Google hand over the records? 

It doesn’t matter if you trust Microsoft, Google, or Yahoo.  The fact is that you cannot trust every government and every lawyer across the planet.  At the same time you have to expect that any international company will obey the law in the countries in which they operate.  This means the companies are going to hand over the data – it’s the law.  Even if this means handing over personally identifiable information to China so that they can execute dissenters, you have to expect the companies to do this.  Do you really expect *them* to break the law?

There is only one way to play this game, which is to NOT retain records of any kind.  If records are not kept, they obviously cannot be subpoenaed.

Personally, I do trust Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.  I just don’t trust every lawyer on the planet.  And it only takes one lawyer to make my life a mess.  For this reason, I urge Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and all other internet companies to not keep logs.  I know it helps their businesses, but retaining these records makes it downright scary for me to use their services.  Get rid of the data, get rid of the problem.

Of course, these views do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

See also:  Internet Trust – Present and Future

Yang’s Catch-22

If you rewind the clock to April, Silicon Alley Insider praised Yang’s handling of the Microsoft negotiations, saying that “Yahoo Playing This Brilliantly“.   Now, Silicon Valley Insider claims that Yahoo Management “blew the deal“.

Alright – just because you did some things well doesn’t mean that you will succeed, and obviously Yahoo didn’t get the deal done (is that success?).  But what is clear is that no matter what Yang did, Silicon Alley Insider intended to roast him for it.